Just in case you've been fortunate enough to have been gone fishing all summer and have missed the myriad campaign ads blanketing all media over the past several weeks, Alaska's primary elections are Tuesday.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; a list of Kenai Peninsula polling places is posted below.
The primary has added significance this year. In addition to selecting candidates to represent each political party in November's general election, voters also will be asked to decide a pair of ballot measures:
* Ballot Measure 1 is an initiative that would ban the use of public funds for political campaigns and lobbying by state and local government agencies and school districts. Among other things, it also would ban legislators and their staff from being employed by government contract holders for two years after leaving state service.
* Ballot Measure 2 would change state law to require notice to the parent or guardian of a female younger than 18 before she has an abortion.
As for the candidates, seats up for election this year include: the U.S. House seat held by Republican Don Young; the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Lisa Murkowski; the governor and lt. governor seats held by Republicans Sean Parnell and Craig Campbell, respectively; the state Senate seat held by Republican Gary Stevens; and the state House seats held by Republicans Mike Chenault, Kurt Olson and Paul Seaton.
Murkowski is being challenged for her U.S. Senate seat by Joe Miller. Three Democrats, Jacob Seth Kern, Scott T. McAdams and Frank Vondersaar and a Libertarian, Frederick "David" Haase, also want to unseat her.
A pair of Republicans, John R. Cox and Sheldon Fisher, are challenging Young for his seat. One Democrat, Harry T. Crawford Jr., has filed for that seat.
Parnell is being challenged by six other Republicans -- Gerald L. Heikes, Merica Hlatuc, Sam Little, Ralph Samuels, Brad Snowden and Bill Walker. A pair of Democrats, Ethan Berkowitz and Hollis S. French, remain in the running for that's party's nomination. One Libertarian, William S. "Billy" Toien, and one Alaskan Independence Party candidate, Donald R. Wright, also are running for governor.
Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell is not seeking re-election, but four Republicans, Eddie Burke, Bob Lupo, Jay Ramras and Mead Treadwell; four Democrats, Diane E. Benson, Denise L. Michels, Lynette Moreno-Hinz and John Joseph Powers; and a Libertarian, Jeffrey D. Brown; have expressed interest in that seat.
In House District 33, Olson is running for the Republican nomination while Richard "Dick" Waisanen is on the ballot for the Democrats.
In District 34, Chenault is on the Republican ballot while Ray Southwell is running for the Alaskan Independence Party.
Stevens and Seaton are running unopposed for their seats in Senate District R and House District 35, respectively.
Under Alaska law, a political party can select who can participate in their party's primary. That means voters will choose from three different ballots:
* Any registered voter may choose the Alaskan Independence, Democrat and Libertarian Candidate with Ballot Measures ballot;
* Any registered voter may choose the Ballot Measures Only ballot;
* Voters registered as Republican, nonpartisan or undeclared may choose the Republican Candidate with Ballot Measures ballot.
Campaign season already is in high gear, and escaping the hype sounds appealing at the moment. But, voters on Tuesday have an opportunity to shape not just the upcoming general election, but to change state policy. A good democracy depends on good participation; please make the time to get out and vote.
In short: There's more at stake in this year's primary than simply narrowing the field of candidates. Exercise your right and responsibility to cast your vote.
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